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Sunday, May. 19, 2019
Cambrian College: The host with the most
by Randy Pascal

Just in terms of the hosting of OCAA championships as a percentage of an individual college's varsity sports offerings, the Cambrian Golden Shield find themselves in lofty company these days.

Over the course of the past two years, no less than 40% of the Shield varsity teams have been able to compete for a provincial championship at home, in front of a boatload of family and friends.

True, that means that Cambrian has hosted exactly two OCAA tournaments in this time period, with the Golden Shield varsity family currently sitting at just five teams. But it does constitute a noteworthy undertaking, nonetheless, for the local crew.

“Normally, it's the same schools that host on a regular basis, so a lot of the focus gets put on them,” noted Cambrian Director of Athletics Tim Yu, with the recent 2019 OCAA Women's Volleyball tournament now safely completed and in the books.

“We wanted to show that other schools have the ability to put on a good show as well. It's not just about the resources that you have, it's about the people that you have. This gives people a chance to see exactly what we have here in the north. They often only get to see the Humbers and Fanshawes and those schools.”

Perhaps most interesting was the fact that the 2019 playdowns, when compared to the 2018 OCAA Women's Soccer Championships, also contested in Sudbury, were born of vastly different geneses. “The women's soccer provincials came about from the soccer program,” explained Yu. “They had gone through some years of rebuilding the program, but had qualified for provincials in consecutive years.”

“(Coach) Giuseppe (Politi) knew that he was going to have a strong team, so why not take that opportunity to showcase the team by hosting a provincial championship. That one was program driven. Once it was all done, we knew that we could do this, we knew that we could do it well, so why not do it again.”

“We had a lot of the same people in the same positions,” Yu continued. “We looked at cross country and at volleyball and decided to approach (women's volleyball coach) Dale (Beausoleil). This event was a back-ender. A big part of the driving force was the fact that some of the same people that made the soccer championship so great were still pretty close by.”

Current CAA (Cambrian Athletic Association) president Andrea Manson was one such person, though her role differed substantially from one year to the next. “For soccer, I was more of just a volunteer,” she said. “This time, it was really an event with Tim and I, a CAA event.”

Thankfully, Manson, who took over the CAA presidency just this past October, made good use of her involvement in soccer to put aside helpful hints as she ascended to a leadership role with this most recent provincial championship.

“The food portion (post-game meals), that was something that I wanted to change,” she explained. “This time, there was much more choice, the athletes had a much greater variety. These were things I noticed on my own, but we do have one of our council members who was a soccer player, and she made the same comments.”

In fact, Manson was sure to draw on every similar previous experience that she encountered, bringing it all together to the benefit of the participants at the 2019 OCAA Volleyball tournament. “I've hosted events in the past,” she explained. “I worked for Student Success, and they do all of our Open Houses here.”

“Running an event, you know that not everything is perfect. With Student Success, it's more about the look – you want to distinguish yourself from the other competitors. With athletics, it's whatever makes the athletes happy, how you can better the athlete experience.”

A graduate of the Physical Fitness Management program at Cambrian, Manson is convinced that her role as president of the CAA, which is largely the connection to her current event hosting adventures, will serve her well, moving forward. “The CAA presidency aligns perfectly with what we learned in school,” she noted. “I get to expand on a lot of things that I have learned that I would not necessarily see in a typical entry level job.”

Yu, by contrast, has been around the block a few times already. “Any time you run something like this, there are going to be a couple of hiccups, here and there,” he said. “If anything, we had greater expectations because we had already run one championship. You debrief, you're supposed to improve – and you think you get everything covered.”

To their credit, the feedback they received was largely positive, including an emphatic two thumbs up from the officiating crew on hand, largely from out of town. “Sometimes, we get too caught up in everybody else and we forget about the people who have to run the game,” Yu conceded.

“When the people who have to officiate the games, when they are not well taken care of, it makes their lives harder and much more stressful. When everything goes smooth for them, usually everything else goes smooth. They appreciated everything that was done for them.”

No surprise that this attention to detail starts right at the top when it comes to Cambrian involvement in OCAA competitions. Making his way to northern Ontario from his previous posting in Atlantic Canada just a handful of years ago, Cambrian College president Bill Best is a mainstay at varsity home games in Sudbury. He also happens to now serve as chairman of the board of the OCAA.

“Whether he sits on the board or not, we would have had his support,” stated Yu. “What's awesome about Bill is that he is such a sports fanatic. Having a president that supports sports in such a manner is definitely helpful.”

All of which made the job of the hosting team that much more enjoyable.

“For my staff to be able to do the things that they did, and having the volunteers that we had step up and be there to help us out, was absolutely phenomenal,” said Yu.

Spoken like a man who would do it all over again, if the opportunity arises.

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